More than 50 million prescription pain pills were supplied in Floyd County during the seven years from 2006 to 2012, according to evidence in a class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors playing out in an Ohio federal district court.
The 50,461,515 hydrocodone and oxycodone pills went to pharmacies around the county, which had a population of 96,428 in the 2010 census.
The volume of shipments is one reason Rome city and Floyd County commissioners decided in 2018 to join other Northwest Georgia jurisdictions in a lawsuit contending the companies used deceptive practices to fuel an epidemic of addiction.
More than 2,000 lawsuits from around the nation have been consolidated under the Ohio case.
Shipments of hydrocodone and oxycodone to nearby counties paint a similarly bleak picture.
Polk County pharmacies received orders for 24.4 million pills during that period; Gordon County had 16 million; Chattooga County logged 11.5 million; Bartow County got 33 million; Catoosa County received 25.6 million; and Walker County was supplied with 18.5 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills.
Local officials are seeking compensation for the cost to their communities along with funds to abate the damage.
That’s not just the cost of medical care for people who’ve experienced opioid-related addictions, diseases, overdoses and deaths, according to the suit being spearheaded by Rome attorneys Andy Davis and Bob Finnell.
It also includes treatment, counseling and rehabilitation services for the addicts; foster and other care for children whose parents are disabled or incapacitated by addiction; and the additional strain on law enforcement, public safety and the courts.
Davis said records of the pill shipments are in a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency database called ARCOS, which monitors the flow of controlled substances from the manufacturer to the point of sale. The data was under a court-ordered seal until last month, at the request of the government and drug industry.
The Washington Post and HD Media won a year-long legal battle for access to the data and made it public, along with a series of reports putting the volume of shipments in context.
They’re still fighting for DEA data for 2013 and 2014, which remain under seal in the multi-district litigation case being heard by U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster of the Northern District of Ohio.
The Post also analyzed the nearly 380 million transactions to create a more manageable database and made it available to researchers and other journalists. It doesn’t include data on 10 other opioids that were shipped at lower levels than oxycodone and hydrocodone.
In Georgia, more than 2.2 billion pills were shipped to retail consumers from 2006 to 2012.
Here’s a more detailed look at what happened in the northwest region:
- ♦ Floyd County’s 50.5 million pills were enough for each man, woman and child to have 75 pills a year. The top three pharmacies receiving the shipments were Walgreens, at more than 4 million; Winslette Pharmacy, 3.9 million; and McGowan-Jones Pharmacy in Shannon, 3.7 million.
- ♦ Polk County received 24,436,350 pills, enough for 84 pills per person each year. The top three pharmacies were Bradford Drug Store, at 4.5 million pills; CVS in Cedartown, 3.7 million; and Smith-Lockwood Drug Store, 2.8 million.
- ♦ Gordon County received enough for 42 pills per person per year: 16,076,190 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills. The top three pharmacies were Harbin’s Prescription Shop, 4 million; CVS in Calhoun, 2.3 million; and Kroger, 1.7 million.
- ♦ Chattooga County consumers shared 11,569,850 pills, enough for each person to have 63 a year. The top three pharmacies were CVS in Summerville, 3.8 million; Trion Drugs, 3.2 million; and Walmart, 2.2 million.
- ♦ Bartow County’s shipments totaled 33,039,206 pills, enough for each resident to have 48 a year. The top three receiving pharmacies were Eckerd in Cartersville, 3.6 million; Holt’s Pharmacy, 3.5 million; and Adairsville Drug, 2.6 million.
- ♦ Walker County received 18,574,876 pills, a supply of 39 pills per person per year. The top three pharmacies were Rocky Top Pharmacy in Rossville, 4.9 million; Ledfords Rx Express, 3.1 million; and CVS in LaFayette, 2.6 million.
- ♦ Catoosa County got 25,625,360 pills, equal to a yearly supply of 58 pills per person. The top three pharmacies were Walgreens in Fort Oglethorpe, 6.1 million; Walmart in Fort Oglethorpe, 2.7 million; and CVS in Ringgold, 2.6 million.